What you should be doing to make sure you are serving safe food to your family during COVID-19.

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

During this pandemic, you may be taking extra precautions to keep you and your family safe and food purchasing, storing and preparation are of utmost importance.  To help protect yourself, grocery store workers, and other shoppers, follow these guidelines:

  • Wear a mask in the store.

  • Wipe the cart handles with a disinfecting wipe.

  • Practice social distancing of 6 feet between you and another individual.

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in your grocery cart and grocery bags.

  • You may also order your food online for pick-up or delivery. When you return home, follow these tips:

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds when you return home and again after you put away your groceries.

  • According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is no evidence of food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. However, if you wish, you can wipe down product packaging and allow it to air dry, as an extra precaution.

The FDA states the food supply in the United States is among the safest in the world. However, when certain bacteria or pathogens contaminate food, they can cause foodborne illness, or more commonly called “food poisoning.” Whether we are in this pandemic or not, we need to handle our food properly to lessen risk of foodborne illness. The FDA recommends following these food safety practices to help prevent foodborne illness:

  • When unpacking groceries, refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables—like berries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms—within 2 hours of purchasing.

  • Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the refrigerator temperature is consistently 40° F or below and the freezer temperature is 0° F or below.

  • Before eating, rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush. For canned goods, remember to clean lids before opening.

  • Regularly clean and sanitize kitchen counters using a commercially available disinfectant product or a DIY sanitizing solution with 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) unscented liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. WARNING: Do not use this solution or other disinfecting products on food.

  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.

  • Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the countertop. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.

  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs unless the plate has been washed in hot, soapy water.

  • Do not reuse marinades used on raw foods unless you bring them to a boil first.

  • Color and texture are unreliable indicators of safety. Using a food thermometer is the only way to ensure the safety of meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products for all cooking methods. These foods must be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria.

  • Place food into shallow containers and immediately put in the refrigerator or freezer for rapid cooling. Use cooked leftovers within 4 days.

For safe food internal cooking temperatures, check out this guide from the USDA https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/625d9435-4f14-46fe-b207-5d6688cb4db5/Safe_Miminum_Internal_Temperature_Chart.pdf?MOD=AJPERES When handling food remember to Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. Source: FDA and USDA Stay healthy and safe, ~Kathy Brown-Miner, Registered Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist

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